High School Scholarship Essay Contest

Scholarship Money

2018 is the 21st year of our essay contest. Each spring, the Connecticut Chapter awards two $1,000 scholarships to Connecticut high school seniors who win our essay contest. As of 2018, we will have awarded over $35,000 in scholarship money!

Awards are announced in late May, and a check is mailed directly to each winner's institution of higher learning in August.

The Essay

In January, the Chapter will announce the topic of our Essay Contest. High School Seniors in the state of Connecticut are invited to participate. Submissions must be postmarked by April 16, 2018. 

The Details

Once the topic is announced in January, we require completion of an Application, Essay and a Recommendation Letter. More details on these items to come. Please check back January 3, 2018.

2017 Winning Essays

Winner #1 (Marine Science Magnet High School)

  The Impact of a Fire Sprinkler System   

Fire Sprinkler systems have played a huge part in the lives of many families. Ever since I was a little kid, I was constantly wondering about how things in life worked, as most children do when they are younger. One of the things in life I questioned, was how the fire sprinkler system functioned. As I grew older, I researched what fire sprinkler system exactly is and how they are very important in not only saving lives. The NFPA Fire Sprinkler Initiative is focused on bringing fire sprinkler systems into the average residential home, because “we are not at greatest risk from fire in hotels or other public places; it is at home, where most of us feel the safest, that we are actually at highest risk of fire.” This is eye-opening, because one would normally not think of the home as the place where fire occurs the most. However, since homes do not have the same safety codes as businesses, which are required to have state of the line automatic fire sprinkler systems that most residential homes do not have (“How sprinklers work”). As a result of not having fire extinguishing technology, residential homes have been deemed the most vulnerable to internal fires. This statement is supported by the Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety, which states “In the year 2000, 73 percent of structure fires occurred in residential Structures” (“Fire Suppression Operations in Residential Occupancies equipped with Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems”). According to the Free Dictionary, a fire sprinkler “is a system for automatically extinguishing fires in a building, consisting of overhead waterpipes with outlet valves that open at a certain temperature.” (“How Sprinklers Work”).  This system is unique, because the water for the system is “always in the piping”  (“How Sprinklers Work”). The fire sprinkler system, after it has been activated, “sprays water forcefully over the flames, extinguishing them completely in most cases, or at least controlling the heat and limiting the development of toxic smoke” (“How Sprinklers Work”). The development of toxic smoke is one of the leading causes of death within a residential home, not the flames from the fire. For one to increase their chances of surviving a fire, “having a residential fire sprinkler system installed in your home can increase your survival expectancy during a fire by 80%” (“Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems Important?”). By having an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home, you are not only ensuring a greater chance survival for your family, but insuring that your house will not burn down as well. Even though you may think that your family is safe, a fire sprinkler system is the safest way to go, because a fire may threaten your home at any time.                

Winner #2 (Marine Science Magnet High School)

 Fire Sprinkler Systems: 

The Secret Lifesavers and Unsung Heroes   

“Mom, what is that on the ceiling?” I questioned. “That is a fire sprinkler,” She replied and elaborated on the importance of fire sprinkler systems in our lives. From this moment on, I developed a deep sense of appreciation for fire sprinklers and recognized how they protect my family. Fire sprinkler systems activate quickly to reduce heat, flames, and smoke produced by a fire. Fortunately, when fires occur, fire sprinkler systems minimize property damage and save thousands of lives.    To begin, fire can be detrimental to buildings and property. Fire sprinklers can keep property damage at a minimum and “reduce the average property loss…by about 70 percent” (“Making the case”). Many assert fire sprinklers cause more damage than the actual fire, because of the water they release. In actuality, fire sprinklers spray, “8-24 gallons of water per minute to control fires…(compared to the 50-125 gallons per minute that the fire department’s hose supplies)” (“Why Are Fire”)! Fire sprinklers employ the least amount of water required to contain the fire.    Additionally, fire sprinklers rarely leak and automatically activate during most fires. For example, a study conducted by the United Fire Protection Company discovered, “Fire sprinkler systems operated during 91% of all reported structure fires large enough to activate the system” (“3 Reasons Why”). The fire sprinklers only failed when the building owner turned off the system or did no properly maintain them. Another benefit of fire sprinklers is they are cost-effective. According to a report released by the Fire Protection Foundation, “the average cost of installing sprinklers in new homes is at $1.35 per square foot or about one percent of the total construction cost” (“Making the case.”). Surprisingly, the cost of $1.35 per square foot incorporates the expense of installation and equipment utilized.    More importantly, fire sprinklers consistently save human lives. The National Fire Protection Association, (NFPA) asserts, when fire sprinklers are installed in a building, the chances of perishing from a fire are decreased by “50-75%” (“Incident shows importance”). When examining records, the NFPA also determined no more than two people have died in a fire when a functional fire sprinkler was installed in a building (“Incident shows importance”). For humans, the most fatal part of a fire is not the flames or heat, but rather the smoke and deadly fumes released by the fire. The smoke is poisonous and can impede vision. “Fire sprinklers give people approximately 10 minutes of cool, clean air to safely escape” (“Why Are Fire”). When utilized, fire sprinklers reduce the smoke from a fire and would allow time for my family to evacuate the building.   Around the country, each day fire sprinklers respond to and alleviate the risks created by fires. One specific example of when fire sprinklers played a vital role was in 2007, at the Florida Moderage Furniture store. As a result of the fire sprinkler system installed in the building, only a small area of the store was damaged. After the event, the Fire Marshal articulated, “The building’s sprinkler system did its job. There were no fatalities, no injuries, and a very small amount of property damage” (“Incident shows importance”). The store fire is one particular example of when fire sprinklers assisted, but these sprinkler stories occur every day.   Overall, within minutes a single flame can transform into an uncontrollable fire. Fire sprinkler systems deserve recognition for their crucial role in fire prevention. As a result of their protection of property and families, fire sprinkler systems are truly secret lifesavers and unsung heroes.   

Works Cited

"Fire Suppression Operations in Residential Occupancies Equipped with Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems.” Fire Suppression Operations in Residential Occupancies Equipped with Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems. Concord Department of Fire and Life Safety FIRE MARSHAL’S OFFICE, 01 Sept. 2005. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.   

“How sprinklers work.” Fire Sprinkler Initiative. NFPA, 2017. Web. 14 Apr. 2017.


“Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems Important?” Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems Important? Kauffman Co., 18 June 2015. Web 14 Apr. 2017. 

Works Cited

  “Incident shows importance of sprinkler systems.” Penn Well, 2007, http://www.fireengineering.com/articles/2007/06/incident-shows-importance-of-sprinkler-systems.html.   

“Making the case for home fire sprinklers.” National Fire Protection Association, 2016, http://firesprinklerinitiative.org/advocacy-tools/fact-sheets/making-the-case-for-home-fire-sprinklers.aspx   

“The Importance of a Fire Prevention Plan at your Facility.” Cintas Fire Protection Corporation, http://www.cintas.com/fire-protection-services/articles/the-importance-of-a-fire-prevention-plan-at-your-facility/.   

“3 Reasons Why Commercial Properties Need Fire Sprinkler Systems.” United Fire Protection Company, 2017, http://www.united-fire.com/3-reasons-why-commercial-properties-need-fire-sprinkler-systems/.   

“Why Are Fire Sprinkler Systems Important?” Kauffman Company, 2017, http://www.kauffmanco.net/fire-sprinkler-systems/importannce-of-sprinklers.   

Wu, Neil. “The Importance of Fire Sprinkler Systems.” Regency Fire Protection Inc., 2017, http://regencyfire.com/importance-of-sprinkler-testing/.